This is going to be a brief post, as I can’t really say too much without spoiling the book for other readers.
Even though Dan Simmons has been writing books for decades, this was the first of his that I’ve read. The basic setting is in the far future, when humanity is established across many worlds in the Web, with travel through portals and FTL travel in “spin-ships”. Beyond the web is Hyperion, a world with an enigma. Known as the “Time Tombs”, an assemblage of bizarre empty artefacts appear to be moving backwards in time, and patrolled by an entity known as “The Shrike”. The world is on the edge of civilised Human space, and under threat from the Ousters, renegade humans with a reputation for savagery and brutality.
A final pilgrimage is being made to the Shrike, of seven individuals from very different backgrounds. In a similar fashion to the Canterbury Tales, each person tells their story, and this is what makes up the bulk of the novel. I was struck by Simmons’ ability to write characters with very different personalities and perspectives, from poets to military leaders, and almost anything in between. The writing style seemed to vary from character to character, which was refreshing. Some of the cyberpunk writing late on in the book reminded me of Gibson and Sterling from the late Eighties, whereas some of the descriptions of trying to save aquatic species from Old Earth brought Arthur C. Clarke to mind.
One thing that comes across clearly in this novel is that each of the travellers has been, or is, suffering. This theme runs throughout. I found myself wanting to read more of the characters, and would have been quite pleased to have had books devoted to them.
All in all, I thought that this was an excellent book, and will read the sequel, “The Fall of Hyperion” quite happily. It’s a shame that I can’t discuss it in more detail, but if anyone has read it and feels like talking about it, you can message me. Is it worth reading? In my opinion, definitely.